Thursday, October 12, 2017

MCPS a top ten offender in spending money that doesn't go to the classroom


Montgomery County is ranked 8th in the nation in school spending that goes to administrators, rather than the classroom, according to Fox 45's Project Baltimore investigative unit. Baltimore City was the worst offender in the nation, their journalists found. Montgomery County Public Schools rank 8th out of all school systems in America in pumping cash to administrators, rather than to teachers and classroom costs. Six of the top ten are in Maryland.

This is once again proof that the record tax hike of 2016 did not go to hire teachers or improve academic performance (as recent PARCC test results proved - math scores declined, and English scores rose statewide, proving there was an obvious flaw in English portion of the test, rather than actual success by MCPS). In fact, a large chunk of the recordation tax money went to pay off the County's legal costs in the Silver Spring Transit Center debacle, in an outrageous and corrupt bait-and-switch by the County Council.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Gov. Hogan proposes massive traffic congestion relief plan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan proposed the largest traffic congestion relief plan in the nation on Thursday, which would widen the entire Capital Beltway (I-495) within Maryland, I-270 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (MD-295). The $9 billion plan would add tolled Express Lanes to each road, but not charge for use of existing lanes.

To expand capacity on the B-W Parkway, the state would have to be given control of the road by the federal government. Hogan has begun preliminary discussions with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke regarding this issue, he said. A private partner will be solicited by the state to construct and operate the new Express Lanes on all three highways. Because of the public-private nature of the plan, Hogan can largely move forward on his own to implement it, another plus in what is sure to be a contentious election year legislative session in Annapolis.

In a press conference yesterday, Hogan called his plan "unprecedented" and "absolutely transformative." The popular governor predicted that the congestion relief would assist the entire region, not just Maryland residents. Aside from the clear practical benefits, the highway plan is a brilliant political move, as many of Hogan's rivals have already taken the bait and come out opposing traffic congestion relief(!).

Other politicians, even those not in Hogan's party, smartly endorsed the plan. Robin Ficker, a Republican candidate for Montgomery County Executive who has called for such a plan for I-270 for years, praised the governor's proposal. "We say thank you to Governor Larry Hogan for putting forth a plan to widen the 495 beltway and I 270," Montgomery County Young Republicans VP Dan McHugh said in a statement. "This will help alleviate the terrible traffic problems we have here in Montgomery County!! This is what happens when you elect Republicans - we get things done!!" Patricia Fenati, a GOP candidate for the House of Delegates in District 14, recalled the many hours she has spent over the years driving from the upcounty into the District for work. "Finally, a hero has come along to look at that problem, and come up with a solution," she said of Hogan.

Predictable criticisms and the old "induced demand" canard came from organizations engaged in the War on Cars in our region following yesterday's announcement. "Induced demand" theory has never been proven, as missing pieces of our regional freeway system have been to blame for growing congestion on our few highways. For example, there is no second Potomac River crossing, and no M-83 Midcounty Highway Extended, to relieve traffic on the American Legion Bridge and I-270. And the Capital Beltway was doomed to be jammed when anti-car forces foiled the original plan to run I-95 through Washington, D.C. That dumb move sends East Coast traffic around our Beltway 365 days a year, creating massive traffic jams.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

First debate for Montgomery County Executive candidates this Saturday, 10:00 AM

The 2018 election season is getting an early start this weekend. Five months before the candidate filing deadline, the men who have already thrown their hats in the ring for the open Montgomery County Executive office will square off in a forum hosted by the Montgomery County Muslim Council. The debate will be held this Saturday, September 23, from 10:00 AM to 1:30 PM at the Potomac Community Center, located at 11315 Falls Road in Potomac.

Expected to participate are Republican Robin Ficker and Democrats Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich and George Leventhal. Democrat Bill Frick of Bethesda just entered the race yesterday, and I will update this article as soon as I can confirm his participation.

The event is free to attend and open to the public. From the schedule, it appears Congressional candidates will speak first, and the County Executive candidates will go on at noon. However, you will have the chance to "work the room" and speak one-on-one with the candidates between 10-10:30, and between 1-1:30. This is the first real chance to hear the platforms and positions of the candidates in their own words.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Gaithersburg Mayor & Council to consider height waiver for Olde Towne property

Gaithersburg's Mayor and Council will consider a request for a height waiver from the owner of the "Fishman property" at their meeting tonight at 7:30 PM at City Hall. The Olde Towne property is located at 315 E. Diamond Avenue.

There is currently a four-story height limit on the site, and Ellisdale Construction is seeking the waiver to allow a six-story apartment building with ground floor retail. There will also be an accessory parking garage of three stories.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gaithersburg Mayor & Council to review options for new City Council chambers (Photos)

Gaithersburg's Mayor and Council will review two architectural options for the future relocated City Council chambers (which will be moved to 16 South Summit Avenue) tonight. There is an option for an attached Mayor & Council conference room and overflow seating area. City leaders will also ponder a range of options for interior finishes.

Officials will be looking at the costs of each option, and comment on the possible materials to be used. Architectural firm ShraderGroup will then present a final design proposal to the Mayor & Council at their November 27 meeting. Tonight's work session will begin at 7:30 PM at City Hall.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Montgomery Village Wendy's to get makeover

The Wendy's at 18350 Contour Road in Montgomery Village will be getting a makeover. A $250,000 interior renovation is planned for the near future. This a national effort Wendy's calls a "brand transformation," that includes remodeling of restaurants across America to include fireplaces, more inviting seating options, and flatscreen TVs and Wi-Fi.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Gaithersburg Planning Commission to consider Verizon request for cell tower atop Cadence at Crown apartments tonight (Photos)

The Gaithersburg Planning Commission tonight will examine a request by Verizon Communications for a "stealth" cell tower atop the Cadence at Crown apartment building, located at 113 Ellington Boulevard in Downtown Crown. This will consist of panel antennas, some of which will be hidden, but others will match the building materials while being visible from the street below.
Views of how the tower panels
atop Cadence at Crown will appear
A 200' fenced equipment area will also be added to the top of the parking garage, but will not take any existing parking spaces. City staff is recommending approval of the cell tower, with conditions.

Commissioners will also consider a new building sign approval requested by Fitzgerald Automotive for their dealership at 904 Russell Avenue. The sign would be 22.4 SF in size. Staff is also recommending approval for this agenda item.

The meeting will be tonight, Wednesday, September 6, 2017, at 7:30 PM at City Hall.